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Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines 2006 (pdf)  MMWR  |    STD_RX2006  


Chlamydial Infections Treatment 2006  

Chlamydial Infections in Adolescents and Adults

In the United States, chlamydial genital infection is the most frequently reported infectious disease, and the prevalence is highest in persons aged =25 years (123). Several important sequelae can result from C. trachomatis infection in women; the most serious of these include PID, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. Some women who have uncomplicated cervical infection already have subclinical upper reproductive tract infection.

Asymptomatic infection is common among both men and women, and to detect chlamydial infections health-care providers frequently rely on screening tests. Annual screening of all sexually active women aged =25 years is recommended (124), as is screening of older women with risk factors (e.g., those who have a new sex partner or multiple sex partners). The benefits of C. trachomatis screening in women have been demonstrated in areas where screening programs have reduced both the prevalence of infection and rates of PID (125,126). Evidence is insufficient to recommend routine screening for C. trachomatis in sexually active young men, based on feasibility, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness. However, screening of sexually active young men should be considered in clinical settings with a high prevalence of chlamydia (e.g., adolescent clinics, correctional facilities, and STD clinics). An appropriate sexual risk assessment should be conducted for all persons and might indicate more frequent screening for some women or certain men.

Diagnostic Considerations

C. trachomatis urogenital infection in women can be diagnosed by testing urine or swab specimens collected from the endocervix or vagina. Diagnosis of C. trachomatis urethral infection in men can be made by testing a urethral swab or urine specimen. Rectal C. trachomatis infections in persons that engage in receptive anal intercourse can be diagnosed by testing a rectal swab specimen. Culture, direct immunofluorescence, EIA, nucleic acid hybridization tests, and NAATs are available for the detection of C. trachomatis on endocervical and male urethral swab specimens (127). NAATs are the most sensitive tests for these specimens and are FDA-cleared for use with urine, and some tests are cleared for use with vaginal swab specimens. The majority of tests, including NAAT and nucleic acid hybridization tests, are not FDA-cleared for use with rectal swab specimens, and chlamydia culture is not widely available for this purpose. Some noncommercial laboratories have initiated NAAT of rectal swab specimens after establishing the performance of the test to meet CLIA requirements. Patients’ whose condition has been diagnosed as chlamydia also should be tested for other STDs.

Treatment of Chlamydial Infections  

Treating infected patients prevents transmission to sex partners. In addition, treating pregnant women usually prevents transmission of C. trachomatis to infants during birth. Treatment of sex partners helps to prevent reinfection of the index patient and infection of other partners.

Coinfection with C. trachomatis frequently occurs among patients who have gonococcal infection; therefore, presumptive treatment of such patients for chlamydia is appropriate (see Gonococcal Infection, Dual Therapy for Gonococcal and Chlamydial Infections). The following recommended treatment regimens and alternative regimens cure infection and usually relieve symptoms.

Recommended Regimens

Alternative Regimens

A recent meta-analysis of 12 randomized clinical trials of azithromycin versus doxycycline for the treatment of genital chlamydial infection demonstrated that the treatments were equally efficacious, with microbial cure rates of 97% and 98%, respectively. Azithromycin should always be available to treat patients for whom compliance with multiday dosing is in question.

Ofloxacin and levofloxacin are effective treatment alternatives but are more expensive and offer no advantage in the dosage regimen. Other quinolones either are not reliably effective against chlamydial infection or have not been evaluated adequately.

To maximize compliance with recommended therapies, medications for chlamydial infections should be dispensed on site, and the first dose should be directly observed. To minimize transmission, persons treated for chlamydia should be instructed to abstain from sexual intercourse for 7 days after single-dose therapy or until completion of a 7-day regimen. To minimize the risk for reinfection, patients also should be instructed to abstain from sexual intercourse until all of their sex partners are treated.


Except in pregnant women, test-of-cure (repeat testing 3–4 weeks after completing therapy) is not recommended for persons treated with the recommended or alterative regimens, unless therapeutic compliance is in question, symptoms persist, or reinfection is suspected. Moreover, the validity of chlamydial diagnostic testing at <3 weeks after completion of therapy (to identify patients who did not respond to therapy) has not been established. False-negative results might occur because of persistent infections involving limited numbers of chlamydial organisms. In addition, NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test) for C. trachomatis and N. gonorrhoeae conducted at <3 weeks after completion of therapy in persons who were treated successfully could yield false-positive results because of the continued presence of dead organisms.

A high prevalence of C. trachomatis infection is observed in women who were treated for chlamydial infection in the preceding several months. The majority of posttreatment infections result from reinfection, frequently occurring because the patient’s sex partners were not treated or because the patient resumed sex with a new partner infected with C. trachomatis. Repeat infections confer an elevated risk for PID and other complications when compared with the initial infection. Therefore, recently infected women are a major priority for repeat testing for C. trachomatis. Clinicians and health-care agencies should consider advising all women with chlamydial infection to be retested approximately 3 months after treatment. Providers also are strongly encouraged to retest all women treated for chlamydial infection whenever they next seek medical care within the following 3–12 months, regardless of whether the patient believes that her sex partners were treated. Recognizing that retesting is distinct from a test-of-cure, as discussed in this report, is vital. Limited evidence is available on the benefit of retesting for chlamydia in men previously infected; however, some specialists suggest retesting men approximately 3 months after treatment.

Management of Sex Partners  

Patients should be instructed to refer their sex partners for evaluation, testing, and treatment. The following recommendations on exposure intervals are based on limited evaluation. Sex partners should be evaluated, tested, and treated if they had sexual contact with the patient during the 60 days preceding onset of symptoms in the patient or diagnosis of chlamydia. The most recent sex partner should be evaluated and treated, even if the time of the last sexual contact was >60 days before symptom onset or diagnosis.

If concerns exist that sex partners will not seek evaluation and treatment, or if other management strategies are impractical or unsuccessful, then delivery of antibiotic therapy (either a prescription or medication) by heterosexual male or female patients to their partners might be an option (see Partner Notification). Limited studies to date have demonstrated a trend toward a decrease in rates of persistent or recurrent chlamydia with this approach compared with standard partner referral (25,27). Male patients must inform female partners of their infection and be given accompanying written materials about the importance of seeking evaluation for PID (especially if symptomatic). Patient-delivered partner therapy is not routinely recommended for MSM because of a high risk for coexisting infections, especially undiagnosed HIV infection, in their partners.

Patients should be instructed to abstain from sexual intercourse until they and their sex partners have completed treatment. Abstinence should be continued until 7 days after a single-dose regimen or after completion of a 7-day regimen. Timely treatment of sex partners is essential for decreasing the risk for reinfecting the index patient.

Special Considerations

Doxycycline, ofloxacin, and levofloxacin are contraindicated in pregnant women
. However, clinical experience and studies suggest that azithromycin is safe and effective . Repeat testing (preferably by NAAT) 3 weeks after completion of therapy with the following regimens is recommended for all pregnant women to ensure therapeutic cure, considering the sequelae that might occur in the mother and neonate if the infection persists. The frequent gastrointestinal side effects associated with erythromycin might discourage patient compliance with the alternative regimens.

Recommended Regimens of Chlamydial Infections in Pregnant women  

Alternative Regimens

Erythromycin estolate is contraindicated during pregnancy because of drug-related hepatotoxicity. The lower dose 14-day erythromycin regimens may be considered if gastrointestinal tolerance is a concern.